Dongle Daze

I am having serious problems with my dongle. This is a sentence my younger self never imagined saying in the future. Not that I envisioned myself in a flying car or wearing a jet pack, but I certainly didn’t predict having to talk to an Ethiopian tech support center about why my dongle isn’t dangling. Or dingling, or whatever the hell a dongle does. Whatever it is supposed to do, mine doesn’t, which means I have to go back and forth from the front of the room to the back in order to advance the slides of my Power Point. In any event, the Ministry of Silly Names has to be very proud of the dongle. It’s one of their better efforts.

It’s not that I’m a technophobe; I’m more of a technophoob. I am not afraid, just somewhat of a klutz about new technology. Exhibit A is that my son gave me his year-old Apple watch. He had upgraded to the newest model, as soon as it came out, of course. I didn’t quite see the point since I already had a nice watch that told me time and date and was self-powered. But he convinced me that the fitness app alone would be worth the switch. So there I was trying to write a check at Walmart and neither I nor the clerk knew what the date was. Naturally, I looked to my watch for the answer. But all I succeeded in doing was dropping both my pen and my checkbook as I pushed, tapped, and swiped at the watch face trying to figure out the date. Finally, we both took a guess (incorrectly as it turned out) that we could agree on.

When I told my son about my misadventure, he pointed out that I could have just paid with my watch instead of writing a check. This sounds like a wonderful Star Trekkie kind of idea. If I could only figure out how to set up my watch to do it and then how to use it while standing in line as people complain about the old guy who doesn’t understand modern technology. And while that may have some truth, chances are that those people don’t even understand the basics of how a light works. In fairness though, even I have complained about people who can’t use the new chip embedded in credit cards. And why the annoying buzzer to tell you when to take your card out of the reader? Surely the tech gurus can come up with a better sound … coins being wrestled from a piggy bank for instance.

New technology can be frustrating. I have a friend who paid an obscene amount of money to have a techie come into his house and set up a single remote to control all of his electronics. I envy him greatly. I have so many remotes at my house they have their own zip code. I’m always finding a new one with no idea what it is for. I really try to keep up. I even use a labeler in an attempt to stay organized; but it’s a Sisyphean task. It’s like they are bunnies multiplying every time I’m not looking. One day a keyboard and remote suddenly appeared next to my TV.

“What’s this?” I asked my son.

“It’s a Raspberry Pi,” he answered.

“You know I prefer blueberry,” I said.

He tilted his head and raised one eyebrow.

“What does it do?” I asked. He looked at me as though I had just asked what a horseless carriage was for.

He then launched into a twenty minute explanation that told me exactly nothing. I decided to Google it. After several conversations with Michael, a Google search and a visit to the Raspberry Pi website, I still don’t know why this device is vampiring electricity off of my grid. I did learn it’s a programmable computer and it does some kind of coordinating with other electronic devices in my house. It’s probably just the first step in SkyNet’s overthrow of the human race. Or turn all humans into organic battery packs for Apple watches. I know I’m probably mixing up my movie metaphors but it’s a little overwhelming. All I really learned for sure was that I have a powerful urge to pick up a blueberry pie and some ice cream.

People who pay attention to real news, have heard about the self-driving cars that are being tested by Google, Tesla, and Vandelay Industries. Considering some of the idiots I have to avoid crashing into every day, I think computers would be an improvement on the current situation. Support for my theory is that every time a self-driving car has an accident it’s attributed to an onboard human who overrode the car’s computer. It won’t be long before humans will be relegated to the trunk so the car can drive in peace. I know a lot of husbands, including myself, who can relate.

Michael is right about one thing: the Apple watch is good for fitness. Every day it reminds me that I haven’t done any exercise and tells me to stand up and do something. Fortunately, the mere act of standing seems to satisfy the watch and it congratulates me for doing a good job. At my age, standing up is as good as it’s going to get in terms of physical exertion. And the sounds I make in doing so resemble someone who has just run up the Manitou incline. The watch also tells me to breathe on a regular basis. Thank god, an exercise regimen I can actually do: standing up and breathing. General Patton would be proud.